E. M. de Melo e Castro has written poetry in different physical media – in the same way as “peso pesado do átomo” [atom’s heavy weight] (Castro 2006) – such as paper, textiles, canvas, wood, metal, stone, plastic, early opting for a dematerialization of word and image, something that became apparent, from the outset, in the pioneering videopoem Roda Lume [Wheel of Fire] (1968). This dematerialization of the artwork was taken as a guideline for the retrospective exhibition “O Caminho do Leve” [The Way to Lightness] (2006) at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, in Porto. Melo e Castro states:
This trio of bots by Mark Sample present riffs on three of the most famous poems of the early Twentieth Century: William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow” and “This Is Just to Say,” and Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro.” The bots generate new versions of the poems by randomly altering most of the open word classes while keeping the basic syntax, meter and lineation intact, tweeting a new mutation once every two hours (though at the time of writing @DependsUponBot has been inactive since December 2014, for reasons unknown —editor’s note: it has now resumed operations). To my mind, the pleasure of these bots’ tweets lies in the discrepancy between the familiarity of the syntactical structure and the limit-case absurdity of the randomly generated content. For example, the sublime juxtaposition Pound presents the reader –
“Bust Down the Doors!”, a videopoem by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, opens with a countdown, preparing the reader to the challenge he or she is about to encounter. Quick flashing words that compose the poem begin to blink in and out of the screen, daring the reader to catch each word properly and keep up to rhythm. The contrast of the black letters against a white background creates an almost hypnotizing pattern to this race. This format is repeated in all three different language versions, which are English, German, and French.
Slightly modifying the “cut-up” technique of Dadaist and Modernist writers in her digital work, “Blue Hyacinth,” Pauline Masurel encourages her readers not to destroy the original four poems, but rather jumble them together, stir them up, and weave them in a way that shares in the creative process of generating an individualized text. By presenting “Blue Hyacinth” as a stir-fry work (using Jim Andrews’ “Stir Fry Texts” framework) that allows readers to reflect on the original poems, Masurel is changing the author-reader relationship. Masurel ensures that readers become extensions of herself by encouraging readers to manipulate her writings and fashion a text that becomes less a traditional example of poetry and more a collaborative piece shared between individual reader and writer. With “Blue Hyacinth,” Masurel crafts a space where traditional print culture roles fade and are replaced by their mutable digital counterparts. Never once just a reader or an author, those that encounter “Blue Hyacinth” are able to exercise a semblance of autonomy that is novel to texts within the digital medium.
William Shakespeare returns to Twitter!
This bot (previously reviewed in I ♥ E-Poetry) takes a simple concept and executes it flawlessly: it tweets a line from The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (freely available in Project Gutenberg) every 10 minutes and will do so until it reaches the end in about 2 years. “Willy Shakes” has now begun the third round of tweeting, having recently completed Round 2 on December 24, 2013 (see embedded tweets below) and taking a brief hiatus.
“Paperwounds,” is an intimate look into the sometimes-surreal, often-manic realm of the suicidal and depressed. It is an intense snapshot of the numerous facets that go into the decision of taking one’s own life, each of its disparate parts aligning to form a piecemeal narrative readers may only ever really guess at in its entirety. Presented as a crumpled up piece of paper, readers “unwrap” the suicide note by clicking on the highlighted/pulsating words within its folds. Doing so exhumes other, shorter notes the writer placed within the virtual letter, each one a different illustration of–perhaps–what drove the fictional victim to this ultimate negation of self. The interface, technological sounds, and brief animations when you mouse over certain texts combined with the ruined state of the materials create a forensic tone for the work, casting the reader in the role of an investigator. The poem may be zoomed in on, zoomed out from, flipped, rotated, dimmed, and made completely invisible–though doing any of the aforementioned does not seem to change the nature of the text at first glance.
“Two matchsticks” (2008) is the title of an e-poem by short story writer, Samir Mesquita based on “Two matchsticks,” a popular saying in Brazil. The origins of this Brazilian folk expression are difficult to determine, but its significance indicates the rapid execution of a task. The matchbox is a Brazilian’s old friend. Even with the absence of musical instruments several sambas have been created accompanied only by the cadenced rhythm of these improvised little rattles. Today, in the Internet and microblogging age, the matchboxes inspires new literary genres.
“.txt“ is a work located between dance, poetry, and digital technology that challenges any attempts at genre classification. Its presence in that directory of articles dedicated to poetry in digital media at first be justified by the presence of the written word, however, the motivation that drives this brief reflection is far from being limited to the presence of the language code. It is an exciting and complex project, built from a fusion of languages through digital technology and whose interaction depends on a body gesture.
Helen Sword’s 2009 web sonnet, “Arachne” is an homage to the mythological encounter of Athena and Arachne. The contrasting stances of human and mortal are set against visuals of green leaves and spiders, with language forming the webbed pattern between them.
The poem advances as the reader clicks on the spiders, the heart of the web, or hovers the cursor over their forms, thereby navigating between either Arachne or Athena’s points of view. For those who might have trouble traversing the poem itself, there are links at the bottom of the page that allow for a full text view of the work as well as an audio version.
Note: you’ll need to allow pop-up windows to read this poem.
This minimalist e-poem influenced me greatly in my development into an e-lit scholar. When I first encountered this poem in 1999, I was impressed by its use of colorful pop up windows in different sizes and positions to illustrate how one can be alone, even when surrounded by others. The distinctive features of each window yield to a common look and feel as the all become the same in color and message, as seen below.
The yellow words that take over all the windows is a background image– an animated GIF alternating the word/phrase “alone” and “all one.” This repetitive sequence resonates with E. E. Cumming’s spatial juxtaposition in “[l(a]” because both poems provide compelling images of loneliness. Whether you are a leaf falling from a tree, detached (in death) from the company of other leaves, or a window surrounded by 15 other windows for a little while only to be left alone, in the end you are bound to feel “one.”